Leaving that thought to muse for a moment …
I am really hard on myself. No, I am really hard on myself. My criteria for success is perfection, anything less is simply unsatisfactory. This is extremely odd as I am a teacher by profession and recognize, no embrace, the concept that any progress is to be celebrated and rewarded. Unless it's me of course, then anything less than perfection is to be rejected, scorned, and basically scoffed at with derision.
You know I jest. Sort of.
In reality, I don't suck nearly as much as I claim. Being self-depracting is how I cope with my perceived sense of failure and lack of success. In reality, I know that I am actually a fairly strong rider who just has stuff to learn. Load me up; I can take it. All I really need is to be shown; I get it pretty quickly and don't forget.
That sort of brings me back to Monday's lesson. I hadn't ridden with JL for several weeks so I was eager to talk about my last show and the lesson I took with Chemaine. I shared what Chemaine had said about doing more shoulder fore, sitting deeply, not leaning forward, opening the outside rein, and remembering to do more patting and praising. JL was on board with all of it and more than happy to incorporate those ideas into our lessons.
And so we got to work on the right lead canter. Our departures still aren't super smooth and balanced, but I can definitely feel what I need to do; we just need more practice. Simply sitting with the inside hip forward, inside leg at the girth, and outside leg behind the girth isn't enough. Sydney needs a lot of support from his rider, which means very precise use of the outside rein during the transition.
And interestingly enough, he needs the same amount of finesse with the outside rein during the downward transition. Who knew? Not me obviously as it took several rather awkward and ugly transitions where his back dropped about 18 inches as his nose reached for the sky for me to put the whole picture together. Oh, you mean I need to help in the downward transition, too? D'oh!
And that's what we focused on. I asked for a right lead canter, made the circle smaller, and then asked for the downward transition while trying to provide a lot of support with my outside rein. It took a few tries, but then we got it. Frankly, JL was rather impressed with how quiet and submissive Sydney was. She said that she's never seen him this relaxed and happy. Ah … music to my ears.
I must be doing something right.